Monday, February 28, 2011

Red Flag

foul. foul. foul. foul. foul. foul. The End.

That was my response when my best friend asked me how the competition went, and really, there wasn't really much else to say about it. I'm pretty sure I had nightmares last night about raised red flags.

One of my goals in life is to run really fast for about 40 meters and then jump as far as I can without going over a 1.2 meter (4 inch) board they've slapped down at the end of the runway. Those 4 inches matter and I spend a great deal of time trying to master the art of not jumping even a centimeter past where I'm supposed to. Yesterday, I simply failed that test miserably.

There were plenty of people who tried to tell me I jumped well, but I would beg to differ. The best basketball player is not the one who wins the slam dunk contest or shoots the most 3 pointers during the All-Star game. Being a good long jumper is jumping well in competition and having them count by mastering the art of taking off from where I'm supposed to. I cannot put my best up against the best in the U.S. or the World if my jumps never even get recorded.

The last time I can remember completely fouling out of a competition (recorded no fair jumps) was back in 2004 at the Olympic Trials. It took me a while to realize that an occurrence like that was not simply bad luck or unfortunate circumstance, but a lack of mental focus that you need to have in this sport. The same is true for yesterday. Fouling happens in this event but six times in a row, being just about a toenails distance each and every time, is something I need to take ownership of and fix in my head more than anything else.

The good news is (besides saving money on my auto insurance) is that I am jumping well at this point in the season. I would definitely have a bigger problem on my hands if I was recording a bunch of jumps that were terrible and having to figure out that issue to solve. I am looking forward to my outdoor season and will be ready to put my best jumps against the top competitors in the world... and have them count.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Friendly Skies

I travel A LOT. Sometimes I forget how much I travel versus the average human being, and how my knowledge of airports.. and airport security.. is probably far more more advanced than your average joe. Which is why I was so annoyed at myself this past weekend for making such a rookie mistake.

I was in line to go through airport security and had a choice between three lines to stand in. I did a quick survey of the people standing in line... yes, this is where stereotypes play a roll -- people with kids, the elderly, and those folks who obviously don't know what they're doing and come dressed with belt buckles the size of texas, all the jewelry they own, and $7.53 in change in their pockets should be spotted immediately and avoided if at all possible. So, I picked the most attractive line and began the process-- that I have almost mastered and could quite possibly patent-- of preparing to walk through security. I missed something though. This airport had turned one line into the full body scan and left the other two normal.

Now, for all intensive purposes I have chosen not to be bothered by the fact that sometimes I stand and have my whole entire body undressed as some person examines me in a closed off, dark room somewhere. I don't prefer it, but in the interest of sanity, I must accept that it is going to happen from time to time and there is not much I can do to avoid it, given my frequent travel schedule. But on this particular trip, it most definitely could be avoided. I could have very easily stood in the other two lines and bypassed this intrusive machine, and not only that, I had on my jeans with the studs on the pocket. Being that this is a machine where you must remove paper from your pockets, I knew I was in trouble.

And so it was. I was asked to step to the side while they reviewed my film, then asked to go into a small room with two airport employees. What happened next was what you would probably expect. I got felt up, in a medical way. Sure, they used the terms breasts, buttocks, and groin area but the fact of the matter is, I felt a little violated. They try to make it all better by using the back of their palm, but it's awkward nonetheless.

Has anyone else experienced this new form of security at the airport? I sure hope all of you who fly feel safer thanks to people like myself who make their way to back rooms...

Monday, February 14, 2011

True Love

for God so loVed the world

that he gAve

His onLy



That whosoever

believeth In him

should Not perish

but have Everlasting life.

(John 3:16)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Weekend Update

I'm back in the United States. You should never say such a thing when just a few days prior you were tweeting about your travels to Russia. Two nights of sleep are just not enough when you've made your way that far across the globe, but alas, it is what it is. Anyway, I'm back and the good/bad news is that I'm not even jet-lagged. I say "bad" because I always look forward to those first few mornings back from a trip when I wake up before dawn full of energy and ready to conquer the world. There is so much productivity happening at that time of day when you are up and wide awake! Sadly, I woke up at 8:30 this morning and still didn't feel like getting out of bed. That pretty much makes the only thing positive about this trip to Russia being the accumulation of miles as I start my journey towards 1K status on Star Alliance. Hey, at least I found a positive!

In all honesty, there really wasn't much positive about this weekend. Before going I thought about pulling out because I wasn't able to line up any other competitions afterwards and I didn't feel like a turnaround trip was the best idea, but then I would just be wasting the money I spent on getting a renewed passport and visa in a weeks time, and I really hate flushing money down the toilet like that. So I went. And after 20 hours of flying I fouled 3 times and had 1 below mediocre jump. But the good news is I saved 15% on my auto insurance.

As you can tell, I'm in a pretty good mood about the whole thing. It honestly didn't even seem worth the effort to pout about it. I'm excited to get back to a couple weeks of good training and then compete at Indoor Nationals at the end of the month. I'm back in San Diego, it's 70 degrees outside, and Russia is almost a distant memory by now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This last sunday we had Pro Day at my church. Basically, it consisted of a few prominent professional athletes (Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Byrd, etc.) sharing their testimony and how God has worked in their lives and the role he plays in their career and success. Obviously I found it to be extremely interesting and enlightening, but that is in large part because I can somewhat relate to the lives they lead and the challenges they face (minus the big paychecks and actual fame.) But the majority of the people who go to my church are not professional athletes and I still think that the overall message was the same for all of us.

Athletes have an obvious platform. And the bigger and more prominent athlete you are, the more visible and important your platform can be. But regardless of whether or not you play professional sports, all of us have a platform, it just may vary a bit in size and scope. We all influence someone and have the opportunity to use that influence in a positive way. I talk about my faith and how it influences my life, but my most important duty is to show it. If there are people looking up to me or just looking at me period, I would hope that what I portray is in line with what I believe and that I can be influential in a way that matters.

I wonder if when people observe me, whether online or in person, they get a true sense of the kind of person I hope to be. I wonder if my ideals, values, morals, and beliefs are evident in the way I live my life and the way I portray myself. I wonder if the small, tiny platform I've been blessed with in my life is being utilized in the way it was intended. These are just some of the things I've been wondering lately. Do you ever think about the platform you've been given and in what way you are using it? It's rhetorical in a sense, but you are free to answer those questions, provided you promise to do so in a semi-respectable manner. ;)